10 Tell Tale Signs Your Marketing Technology Stack is in Trouble

By Michael Helfin

Published on 26 Feb, 2023

With the ever-growing number of marketing tools and platforms currently available, it’s not uncommon for a marketing technology (martech) stack to become cluttered, disorganized, and, ultimately, ineffective. In this article, we’ll explore the signs that indicate your marketing technology stack is in trouble

You’ve likely heard the alarming statistics from Gartner, reporting that only 42% of tech stack capabilities were truly leveraged in 2022 (compared to 58% in 2020). We’ve witnessed this first-hand because many organizations initially come to us for support because they are struggling to achieve their desired results, realizing ideal states, or looking to ‘fix’ what they know is no longer serving their business needs.

In many of our assessments, we often find significant cost savings and gaps within the ideal state and the client’s current state. Mergers, acquisitions, staff changes, and individual preferences can all contribute to creating enormous technical debt and disparate systems across organizations.

The signs

If you can relate to two or more of these common symptoms, you’re likely working with martech that your organization has either outgrown or no longer serves your business’ needs. You do NOT want to be in the 58% of businesses Gartner identified as not leveraging their stack to its fullest capabilities while inflation and an all too real recession is en route.

1. You’re using less than half of your stack’s capabilities.

It could be your email or cross-channel marketing automation platform, content management system (CMS), CRM, your Costly CDP, DMP, Data Warehouse, or Ads Automation solutions. Most marketers are not “Super SMEs” as we call our own subject matter experts here at ShiftParadigm. They will not know what features they can leverage or which products can deliver their ideal state. Integrations are key and many products don’t play well with one another. And who has time for more vendor meetings & research?

2. Access

Only a small percentage of your team is adopting the technology or limiting access to other users. Maybe it’s a security issue, number of licenses issue, or control issue, this is never good!

3. Duplicate Systems & Silos

Factions within your organization are using two or more major platforms that do the same thing. You’re not exactly sure who’s in charge of them or why your company is paying for 2 systems that do the same exact thing. Data silos and annual costs [Insert stat from reputable and worthwhile linkback source on the cost of data silos + duplicate tech]

4. Simple Things Become Mission Impossible

You’re frustrated at how long it takes to do simple data task. You can figure out which geographic region is underperforming YoY quickly, but when you try to segment contacts in that region for targeted messaging, your entire BI & database team has to stop their sprints and drop mission critical priorities to figure it out.

5. Bandaids Are Not Standard Operating Procedures

Does your organization rely on processes that were originally intended as temporary workarounds? The need to “get things done” can create some creative solutions to hack together a temporary solution they intend to rectify it later, but now new hires are being taught this during onboarding.

6. Undocumented Processes

In the era of the Great Migration, if processes aren’t clearly defined and documented you are setting your business up to fail. Technical debt left unchecked can continue to accrue and age without clear purpose and updated ongoing strategy. Recording use cases on the how and why within your systems and integrations can become a major pain point and result in considerable waste. All events, properties, attributes, and taxonomy should be readily available and accessible to your team.

7. Lack of Standardization

Do you notice some events are snake_case, some all caps, some PascalCase, etc? If your business has not standardized objects like field names and aren’t sure which one is right (i.e. “FName” versus “FirstName” versus “First Name”) or have fields with the same names in multiple places populated with different types of data attributes your consumers are at risk of having some unintended messaging that can embarrass you at any moment.

8. No Choice, No Preferences Across Platforms

Do your users and consumers have a robust set of options to self identify themselves and opt-in or out of various communications and marketing channels? If not, you are missing out on a huge expectation as over 80% of consumers now expect personalization and customization, this includes B2B businesses! Think language, frequency, SMS, push, email, cookies, opting in and out of marketing, CCPA requests to not sell your information, etc.

9. A Desire for a Complete Reset: A Total Paradigm Shift

You or key members of your team often fantasize about starting over from scratch. It’s a tempting day dream. But this is often far too costly and/or beholden to sunk cost fallacy.

10. Persistent Identifiers to Light Your Golden Path

If your business has no persistent universal ID’s or GUID for your tech stack to reconcile and identify users, you have a big problem. What is your CDP using to resolve user’s identity from your database? What about your CRM or ESP platform from your CDP? If you have multiple businesses and want to launch a l loyalty program, how would you identify these users?

Common causations of a martech stack mess

You are not the only one looking for solutions, in fact more solutions exist today than ever before. The best place to start is to figure out how your tech stack got here in the first place. Identifying the origin story is crucial to figuring out the arc of your stack’s lifespan.

Our staff has 100s of years of experience working with companies of all sizes and business needs. Unique customized tech configurations and hands-on experience assessing and proving out concepts have given us the knowledge and foresight to resolve tech distress. Often times these boil down to four ‘origin stories’:

1. Siloed purchase decisions

Silos are unfortunately inevitable in any organization. They aren’t inherently bad, so long as you can create data fluidity down the road. Oftentimes, this is not the case and it can lead to bad data, bad intelligence, and poor procurement decisions.

2. Turnover & Restructuring

Restructuring and employee turnover happen more now than ever. When a company has a lynchpin at the helm of platforms and leaves the organization without a sufficient successor, major problems can arise. And we’ve seen this happening more now than ever!

3. Restructuring

This can be a huge problem when most technology platforms are hosted on-site or are forced into in-house technology. Cloud based systems aren’t all plug-and-play, unplanned and contractually-agreed-upon AWS outages for example can cause absolute chaos in your stack. Incompatibility issues arise when purchase decisions get made without consulting with the actual individuals who will soon live their 9-5 lives in these tools. The least we can do is ensure that these systems at least play well together.

4. Growth

Many companies experienced astronomical growth over the last few years. Sometimes it takes unexpected boons of growth to show us just how outdated our technology has become. What would SMS or Push notifications do for your bottom line if you didn’t have it over the last few years? What about a database you can truly take action from with meaningful personalization at scale?

Why it matters

The longer you live in your own tech stack’s stink, the more familiar it smells. But your team smells it every time they log in. Every time they have to do a redundant process or wait for that old system to load, they smell it. But you can pull them out of it.

It takes more than the right combination of platforms to create an effective modern martech stack. You have to develop the right processes, documentation, taxonomy, data fluidity, and if you can keep technical debt at a minimum you might be a paradigm shifter.

The excitement felt as a problem solver working through a truly complex problem can be exhausting to get to the answer. But when the puzzle pieces fit together and you set the last one in place, is there a better feeling in business? Perhaps if you built it in such a way that it can be sustainable and hold for another 10 years.

An ideal state is not commonly realized, but just about every organization has a tech stack made up of legacy technology, some good choices, a little luck, and a few things that they’ll just have to live with.

Understanding the signs and what caused your tech headaches is just the first step to creating an environment where people, processes, and technology work together harmoniously. The next step is finding solutions to your martech mess. How can you do this without bringing in a 3rd party to save you time and countless vendor calls?
Contact us!

Written By Michael Helfin

Michael Helfin is a Braze verified expert and has over a decade of experience as a full stack digital marketer. He lives in Los Angeles and enjoys golfing and spending time with his sons, Luciano & Leonardo.
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